Gore Vidal Dies at 86

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Literary icon Gore Vidal has died. He was 86.

An eclectic author who chronicled the major shifts and upheavals in the United States in books, essays and plays, passed away at his Los Angeles home Tuesday evening of complications from pneumonia, his nephew Burr Steers said.

Viral had also been suffering from heart ailments.

Vidal

Widely hailed as one of America's greatest writers, Gore Vidal was also a high-profile commentator on politics, including his opposition to the war in Iraq.

He joined the Navy at 17 before shocking the world by writing one of the first novels to include an openly gay character, 1948's "The City and the Pillar."

In all, the writer penned some 25 novels, two successful Broadway plays, numerous screenplays, more than 200 essays and the memoir "Palimpsest."

His collection of essays, "United States: Essays, 1952-1992" won the National Book Award in 1993. Through it all, he never strayed from controversy.

He riled the right by saying the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks occurred because the George W. Bush administration was "incompetent."

Vanity Fair refused to publish an essay he wrote reflecting on the tragedy.

He ruffled others by befriending convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and saying he understood "why he did what he did."

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